By Bill Bailey
Key Themes: philosophy, politics, empowerment
The Ghost Society reveals that the State has become a disastrous incubus on the social matrix – the intricate web that constitutes the fabric of human consciousness. The modern State is merely the evolutionary result of a concept born in the distant past, a mechanism to control volumes of people larger than tribal communities. However, this book deals mainly with its contemporary manifestation as it thrusts forward in efforts to globalize its nature and underlying economy.
It is written in an approachable and discursive style with a whiff of the classical Platonic and pre-Socratic traditions. The author wishes to avoid the pseudo-scientific rationalism of modern philosophy, as well as verbal continental brain-twisters that leave only professional academics to rake over the meanings.
The Ghost Society refers to that group of people who choose – as much as possible – to live outside the values and control of this ever more controlling and inquisitive State. The ordinary concept of “work” is dismissed by the Society as an onerous imposed value that is in large part a contemporary form of indenture or slavery. In turn, the Ghost Society is reduced to invisibility by the State.
The initial working title was How to be an Individual Revolutionary. But during the writing the manuscript was transformed into something more interesting and unusual. It became apparent that the next revolution must be quite different from the ones that have defined the current State. The compelling revelation was that there must now be a revolution that changes the social matrix itself, one that surgically removes this old and dangerous entity of the State that enslaves us today. In essence, it is time for human consciousness to evolve in a way that creates a destiny more worthy of the title we have meretriciously awarded ourselves – homo sapiens. Revolution via conscious evolution must happen and continue to happen if we have any hope of becoming any more than just another unsuccessful hominid dead end. We are currently facing a crucial fork in our path – self-realisation or self-destruction. Choices must be made now, as individuals and as communities. The prognosis is bleak, even for optimists. Soon the Ghost Society must become more corporeal if wisdom is ever to be anything more than a dream.
About the Author
Born in a small rural town in North Carolina, Bill Bailey began his itinerant life after graduating from university with a degree in philosophy and a keen interest in judo. After being drafted and subsequently ejected by the US Army for being “incompatible,” he found work as a prison guard in Canada and continued his study of judo before briefly prospecting for gold in British Columbia. Having meanwhile accidentally married a Texan heiress, he moved to Houston, Texas where he managed a ranch, scrambled motorbikes, rallied sports cars, worked as a bouncer, taught English and French and organised the first white collar union in the US meat-packing industry. He placed third in the Southwestern US Judo Championships (light-heavyweight division) and was awarded his black belt. Backing quickly away from Texas after stumbling into the acting profession he moved to London. Within a year of his arrival he became the first full-frontal male nude on the British stage and, consequently, was featured in a full page photo in Life Magazine opposite Lennon and Ono. In the course of his acting career he has worked extensively in film – in Hollywood and Europe – television, and London’s West End. During the Miners’ Strike of ’84-’85 Bill wrote a play about the strike and toured the embattled coalfields performing with a small company of actors. He is the published author of five novels called The Haug Quintet, an investigation of the political nature of consciousness set in a compelling fictional landscape.
INDIVIDUALISM & SLAVERY
When the establishment of capitalism was firmly rooted by the beginning of the nineteenth century, individualism began the ascent to its apotheosis today. This did not mean that the individual was inherently any more important. It meant the concept was useful to the relatively newly dominant economic system and nothing else. There were individual inventors, individual composers, individual explorers. And there were individual industrialists. The individual industrialist was solely responsible for the creation of capital and deserved remuneration accordingly. Likewise, individual workers owed nothing to the body of workers surrounding them as their individual contracts were with the company and its individual owner. This was convenient to the owner, but not always so convenient for the worker. Obviously there was a huge disparity of power between boss and single worker, and there were differing interests. The boss was concerned to increase the worker’s productivity and decrease his wages - thereby enhancing his own wealth - while the single worker had no power to influence either his wages or work rate.
So. Individualism was a very convenient notion. And it became the most dangerous reef in the sea for progressive social ideas. Individualism has an exceedingly fine emotional spin because it makes you feel special, even as the shackles are snapped shut on your wrists. You are “free” to change jobs, if you like, provided you can find one and have the necessary references. You are “free” to think whatever thoughts you want to think, provided the words you speak are carefully filtered with an eye on time and place. But no one without abundant inherited wealth will ever be free of the pressure of having to work, often under conditions which are usually displeasing, for the course of their entire productive lives.
Or at least, that is the presentation facing each youth unlucky enough to be born of parents who were not wise enough to have accumulated great wealth. But is it really true? And is it possible also to revolt individually?
Well, it doesn’t seem to be imaginable, because individuals can easily be picked off by squads of police, tax agents, bailiffs, lawyers, judges and ranks of fish-eyed civil servants. It appears that the only way to make an effective impact on those who manipulate our lives is to join a union or political party - in other words to unite in order to gain individually, or influence or overthrow the ruling interests. However, at the end of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st the Left was in complete disarray. Unions collaborate in their own emasculation, and those that don’t are ruthlessly emasculated. National political parties betray radicals and activists at the first whiff of power and would anyway be impotent against the conspiracy of transnational capital and the global markets. Is it therefore hopeless?
No. It’s not. Global capital gets drunk on its own success, but when the bubbles burst the reverberations are often awesome and awful. In the meanwhile, is there anything we can do? Individually? Can individualism, one of the sharpest weapons of capital, be turned against it?
Perhaps it can.
Previously the strength of the poor, the workers or the disinherited masses was in joining together. After all, no force on earth can resist the swarming ranks of workers united. We know that. So do they. That is why so much energy and wealth is spent on keeping countries, parties, unions, neighbours and even families divided. The main flow of messages from newsprint, books, movies, television and radio is focused on undermining unity and community. The hymn of individual choice is as relentless as monsoon rain on a tin roof. Everyone can choose. Everyone is free...to buy any car, mowing machine, washing powder, ice cream, condom, house or plot of land. Provided he has the money, of course. To get the money you must be a good boy or girl and do as you’re told. You have to work 40-plus hours per week, wear a uniform of coat and tie or smart dress or a demeaning fluorescent waistcoat and demonstrate submissive behaviour to managers or bosses who are often your intellectual or moral inferiors. Is that a good bargain? Is it freedom? If you are good, you are given credit and granted overdrafts and mortgages. These ensure that you will become an indentured slave for the rest of your useful life. Your freedom drains away quicker than shit off a shovel. In other words, you have made a deal in which you trade your freedom for a usually limited range of commodities. A place to live, furniture, household appliances, one or more motor cars for travel and status, along with a never ending stream of disposable junk. Constantly in debt with credit, mortgages and overdrafts, you are unable to leave your job if you want to, call the boss a horse’s ass and strike out for distant horizons. Shackled with such debts, you are probably unwilling to do much to rock the boat ‒ like strike for higher wages or more amenable working conditions. Along with the hedgehog, you’ll drift to the middle of the road, not wanting to support any policy which might be too radical. In fact, the hedgehog probably gets the best hand in an unfair deal. Stress will accumulate in your bones like radiation as you reach for the unattainable carrot while your backside is savagely beaten by your masters. Faster. More effort, more speed, more productivity, more passivity, more pliability, more short-term contracts, more hours, less rest, less money, fewer complaints, fewer holidays, fewer moments to yourself, keep your mouth shut and vote conservative, you toe-rag.
Control is everything for the business interests who suck up the wealth of the world in their bulging personal vacuum bags. The more control that can be exercised, the fewer impediments there are to growth, stability and accumulation. During the rapid rise of capitalism, beginning in the 17th Century, controls have increased even in the face of cyclical demands for freedom ‒ and freedom is the primary cry of every revolutionary in every age. True freedom is clearly going to take a long, long time to soak right through the social fabric. Centuries. Many, many centuries. Maybe never, there’s no way of telling.
OTHER WORKS BY THIS AUTHOR
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